CON: Many think religious beliefs should take a back seat

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

Sept. 9, 2012 at 4:09 a.m.
Updated Sept. 10, 2012 at 4:10 a.m.

Pro: Religion dictates how candidates view the world

When voters go to the polls in November, they many not pay attention to candidate's religious affiliation, even during a religiously diverse presidential election.

A national study released by the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life says few Americans are concerned with the religious affiliation of presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The study, released about a month ago, said 60 percent of Americans who know Romney is Mormon are comfortable with his faith.

For those who weren't aware of Romney's faith, 61 percent said they were comfortable with it, while 17 percent said it doesn't matter.

Dr. Gino Tozzi, a political science lecturer at University Houston-Victoria, said a candidate's religious affiliation in politics takes a back seat to their platforms on economic restructuring and social policy.

"Party affiliation is still the biggest indicator of how someone might vote," said Tozzi, a researcher of American politics, public opinion and the presidency. "People like to vote for people with a similar background, both in background and belief, but I don't think there's a template for the president these days."

Tozzi noted that times have changed in politics, and voters are more willing to accept candidates of all religious backgrounds. And modern voters of either the Republican or Democratic parties are primarily searching for someone who can effectively promote and execute the party's platform.

Morgan Cisneros, of Victoria, said when he goes to the polls in November, he won't be looking at his candidate's religious background.

"I'm Catholic, and it wouldn't matter to me if other candidates are Catholic. It wouldn't sway me either way," he said.

And for Edna resident Michael Lewis, a candidate's policies are more important than religious identity.

"I would want to be as impartial as I can. I would want to know more about their policies ... I wouldn't make a decision based on religion," Lewis said.

Tozzi said the past 60 years in American history have developed a progressive attitude toward religious diversity in politics. And in the next 50 years, he wouldn't be surprised if a Muslim, Buddhist, or Jewish president were elected.

"Think of all the things that have changed in 50 years," he said. "No one thought we'd have an African-American president either."



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